adopting vs buying a dog

Adopting vs Buying a Dog: The Pros, Cons, and Everything in Between

When it comes to adopting vs buying a dog, there are many things to take into consideration. Adding a new fur baby to your family can be a daunting task — you want them to be the perfect fit and, of course, to be happy and settled in your household!

The truth is, there are many pros and cons to adopting and buying. No one method of bringing a dog into the family is right for everyone, and it takes some research to figure out what’s best to do.

Read on to find out about the pros, cons, and other considerations you need to think about when bringing in your friend.

How to Find Your New Furry Friend

Whether you’re going to settle on adopting or buying, there are many ways to acquire your new friend. Some are objectively better than others within the two categories.


When it comes to adopting, there are two main routes: through a shelter or through a rescue. Approximately 3.2 million animals (1.6 million of them being dogs!) are adopted through shelters every year, making them highly successful at what they do.

They’re usually funded by the government.

Rescues, however, rely on donations and volunteers. Some rescues are also breed-specific, and might have higher requirements for adopting out their dogs. For example, a Great Pyrenees rescue is unlikely to adopt out their dogs to a first-time owner because they breed tends to be stubborn and difficult to train.

The last method of adopting is taking an animal from a friend or family who can no longer take care of them.


Puppies can be bought in many different ways: from pet stores, through breeders, or on sites such as Craigslist.

That doesn’t mean all of these ways are ethical or safe. Puppy mills are largely known for churning out puppies that may suffer from many health issues, and should be avoided at all costs.

So how do you buy safely?

Finding a new puppy should involve making sure the pup is AKC registered (if you’re looking for a specific breed), that their health is guaranteed to be great when you adopt them, and that whoever you buy from is available to be contacted for any concerns afterward.

The Pros of Adopting

Adopting a dog is a great feeling. There are many advantages to doing so.

Rescuing a Dog Who Needs a Home

By adopting, you’re rescuing a dog who needs a home. Puppies are likely to be snapped up fast, regardless of the cost. Without adopters, older and ‘less desirable’ dogs or dogs who’ve had a rough start in life might be forced to live in a shelter for a long time without love or companionship.

Generally Cheaper

Although shelters and rescues often charge an adoption fee, the cost of adopting a dog vs buying a puppy is likely to be much cheaper.

Many shelters often through in spaying/neutering and micro chipping with their adoption fee, which often costs less than the procedures would at a regular vet!

Dogs Are Often Already Trained

If adopting an adult dog, you may be fortunate enough to find out that they’re already trained! Some adult dogs haven’t come from bad homes. Perhaps their owner passed or couldn’t look after them any longer, but provided a good home and training at the time.

As an added bonus, they may also be better at being left alone for long periods of time, where buying a puppy means a constant commitment for the first few months of their life.

It’s a Way to Fight Less Ethical Sellers

Adopting is undoubtedly a way to fight the likes of puppy mills. By adopting, you are creating less demand for puppies, making puppy mill owners less desperate for the money people will pay for these poor dogs.

The Pros of Buying Ethically

Despite the horrors of puppy mills, buying isn’t always bad! There are ways to do it ethically that have many advantages.

You Can Choose a Specific Breed

By buying, you’re much more likely to be able to choose a specific breed. Whether you want a dog that is hypoallergenic or one you know is likely to be a good family dog, you can get the AKC registered breed you want.

Shelter dogs are far less likely to be purebred and even if it seems so, there’s no way to certify it.

You Know How They’ve Been Raised

A puppy you’re buying from a breeder has had a much shorter life than a shelter dog, and it’s easier to cover and verify it. They’ve been with the breeder since they were born, which means that the breeder can tell you everything you need to know, including:

  • Any health issues they’ve had
  • How their temperament has been
  • Anything they’ve reacted negatively to, from food to animals

This information can be invaluable.

You Can Often Meet the Parents

When it comes to adopting a dog vs buying a puppy, one huge turn-off for the former is that it’s improbable you can meet the parents. A breeder often has both parents available to meet!

You can get a good idea of what your puppy will grow up to look like, as well as an idea of their temperament. If the parents are both gentle and sweet-natured, chances are, your baby will be too.

It’s Easier to Find a Puppy

If you’re weighing up adopting a dog vs buying from a breeder and having a puppy is a deal-breaker for you, you’ll want to buy. Puppies in shelters and rescues are often snapped up fast so if you’re not quick, adopting one is near impossible.

You Can Show The Dog

If you want to show your dog, buying a puppy is the necessary choice. The vast majority of shelter and rescue dogs are simply not show-quality.

The Cons of Adopting

Although adopting is a wonderful thing to do, there are some things you’ll have to be wary of. Like any other method of getting a dog, there are some disadvantages that it’s important to consider.

Sometimes There are Health Issues

Sadly, dogs who have ended up in shelters may have health issues for any of the following reasons:

  • It’s why they were abandoned
  • They caught something from another animal while in the shelter
  • They have something in their past that the shelter simply isn’t aware of

Whatever the reason for their health issue and the impact now, a shelter dog is simply more likely to have a health issue than a puppy from a legitimate breeder.

You can mitigate this risk by having a vet check them out immediately, but some things still slip through the surface. Veterinary bills are not cheap, and are often the reason animals end up being abandoned in the first place.

Or Behavioral

There also might be behavioral issues that are hard to train out of the dog. The dog might seem sweet when you first meet him or her in the shelter, but could react aggressively to another of your pets or someone in your life.

Some dogs become protective of their owners to a dangerous degree, and attack anyone that they think might be a threat. Although you want a loyal companion, this is not ideal.

When adopting a dog, try to bring anyone the dog might be around a lot as well as any pets down to the shelter to meet them first. This may not be possible if you own less travel-friendly animals, such as a cat, but the shelter might be able to test them around other animals.

It never hurts to ask.

You Can Never Be Sure of the Breed

You might be excited in thinking you’ve found a purebred Siberian Husky or another breed in a shelter but the truth is, you’ll never know for sure. If breed is important to you, then a shelter animal is likely not an option.

Some rescues are breed-specific and might be a little better versed in whether a dog is purebred or not but unless they have the papers, even they can’t be sure.

The Cons of Buying

Although there are many cons to adopting a dog, there are also some when buying. It’s important to consider both sides when coming to your conclusion.

So Many Dogs Out There Already Need a Home

The most obvious con of buying a dog? So many out there need a home.

Some people can’t justify spending money on an animal while there are so many in shelter cages waiting on someone to take them home, and that’s understandable. It’s the main reason people are put off buying, because they feel too guilty.

It’s Expensive

Buying a puppy is going to be more expensive. Although shelters charge an adoption fee for the most part, and the fee from rescues may be even heftier, it’s likely nothing compared to the cost of buying a new puppy.

You’ll have to be prepared for a large upfront cost, and may have to put down up to half of the price as a deposit many weeks before the puppy is in your arms.

It Takes a Lot of Research to Find a Good Breeder

You can walk into most shelters and be reassured they’re doing a good job. Finding a good breeder, however, can be hard work. You need to make sure they’re completely legitimate.

You Might Have to Wait

Those legitimate breeders are likely to have a long wait list if the dog is in high demand. Some breeders have wait lists that are years long, so it can be a real commitment if you choose to sign up with them.

If you’re sure this is the right decision for you, then go ahead and wait. Just remember to check out the terms on the deposit, because if it’s nonrefundable to be added to the wait list, you want to be sure that you aren’t going to get impatient and end up going elsewhere.

For some breeds, the wait list is not as long, so it’s important to weigh your priorities when talking to a breeder.

Adopting vs Buying a Dog: What Should You Do?

It’s a lot to consider. Should you adopt a dog, or should you buy?

You need to ask yourself and your household some questions, such as:

  • Are any of you allergic? Do you need a hypoallergenic breed?
  • How important is the dog being a purebred to you? Do you ever intend to show your dog?
  • Would it make your heart much warmer to adopt than buy a puppy?
  • Can you afford such a massive upfront price for the breed you want?
  • Can you handle the potential health and behavioral issues that might come with a shelter dog?

Buying a dog vs adoption is a hard question in itself, but if you can ask yourself those and answer truthfully, you’ll have a good idea about what’s best for you.

Make the Right Decision For You

Adopting vs buying a dog is an intimidating decision, and you’ll want to be sure you’ve made the right one. To do that, go through the pros and cons of each carefully, and consider your answers to the above questions for as long as you need.

If you do that, you’ll be able to bring a furry friend into your life with the confidence you’ve made the right decision, regardless of which route you pursue!

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